KATHMANDU, July 30: The Kuwaiti flag, which was hoisted on Mt Amadablam without permission, has been secretly returned to Kuwait. The flag, which was kept at the International Mountain Museum in Pokhara, was sent back to Kuwait in May. The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation had confiscated the flag that was hoisted on Mt Amadablam without permission.
According to the Mountain Museum in Pokhara, the flag was sent back from Pokhara on March 30, 2021. Ujjwal Adhikari, store and admin assistant of the museum, said the officials of Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) had taken the flag from Pokhara. “The flag was brought to the museum in Pokhara on February 5. They asked to return it later. We returned it on March 30,” Adhikari said. “It was kept here for a while and we returned it after they asked us to.”
According to him, the Department of Tourism asked the NMA to bring the flag back. The department had asked the officials to keep the flag in the museum in Pokhara on February 3, 2008. The flag arrived in Pokhara two days later. "It is of national importance. It was brought here after being told that it would be appropriate to keep it in the museum. But, when they asked for it, we gave it to them,” he said.
NMA General Secretary Kul Bahadur Gurung said the controversy erupted after the flag was hoisted on Mt Amadablam without permission. The flag was confiscated by the Ministry of Tourism after a video of the flag being hoisted became public on social media. A video of the Kuwaiti flag on the 6,812-meter-high Amadablam mountain went viral on social media. “The tourism department told us to put the flag at the Mountain Museum in Pokhara. Later, it asked us to get it back from the museum,” Gurung said, adding, “When the government asked us to bring it from the museum, we went there and got it. We didn't even know the reason. We could not ask because we were directed by the government.”
The NMA handed over the flag brought from Pokhara to Seven Summit Treks. Gurung said that the responsibility of returning the flag was given to the Seven Summit from the diplomatic level so it was submitted to the trekking company. The company was also responsible for managing the expedition. Therefore, he said, the responsibility of returning the flag may have been given to Seven Summit.
The 150-kilogram flag, which is 100 meters long and 30 meters wide, was confiscated and kept in the store of the tourism department at Bhrikutimandap for a year and a half. The then Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Bhanubhakta Dhakal had decided to keep the flag at the International Mountain Museum in Pokhara. Within five days, the flag arrived at the museum in Pokhara. However, the Ministry of Tourism demanded the return of the flag on March 10.
The flag returned to the Seven Summit was sent back to Kuwait on May 1. Chhang Dawa Sherpa, director of Seven Summit, said they may have been given the task of returning the flag as they led the expedition for the Kuwaiti team. "We have returned the flag. The tourism ministry asked us to return the flag to Kuwait. We sent the flag back accordingly,” said Sherpa. “Most probably the flag was returned after discussions at the government level. We did what the government told us to do.”